For those of you who function outside the world of drug development, the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference (JPM) is exactly what it sounds like: a healthcare-focused conference sponsored by an investment bank. Now in its 30th year, the conference has, over time, attracted all the players in the drug development ecosystem to San Francisco in early January like moths to a flame.
Drug development goes through a process that (focusing on FDA approval) looks like this:
A couple of notes on this oversimplified drug approval process graphic:
- Key milestones are often catalysts for equity investment, acquisition, etc. and as such are the topic of much discussion at JPM.
- Another key milestone is “proof of concept”, whose position can be the topic of much debate but lies somewhere between the end of Phase I and Phase III. (Perhaps POC will be a topic of a future post.)
Why do so many drug development companies gravitate to San Francisco in early January?
Biotech Companies Presenting at JPM
These companies are generally public biotechnology companies that are selected to present at JPM and therefore get good exposure to investors and analysts. You can read much more about some of the companies selected to present at JPM in this article by Adam Feuerstein at The Street. JP Morgan has a site to find additional information about the presenting companies. Some of these biotech companies are also want to partner with pharmaceutical companies, who set up shop in hotels near the Westin St. Francis (where JPM is held)
Biotech Companies Not Presenting at JPM
In addition to the pharmaceutical companies, venture capitalists, even early stage investors, come to San Francisco for meetings in or around JPM. Biotech companies not presenting at JPM can use a single trip for introductory or follow up meetings with potential partners and funders. If companies are so inclined, there are other conferences that have grown up to showcase biotech companies at earlier stages or in somewhat different spaces. Websites have grown to allow people to find one another in San Francisco.
Any More Reasons to Come to San Francisco?
- The program at JPM also includes great keynote speakers from places like the FDA and the CMS as well as presentations by payors to calibrate the reality of who is willing to pay for these new drugs.
- There are always new people to meet or old friends to greet by the clock in the lobby of the Westin St. Francis.
- Networking doesn’t stop at the end of the day, just moves to nearby bars and restaurants for a reception or two before dinner.
- Communications people are everywhere. Seriously, PR people and journalists are in San Francisco in force to tell the stories and report the news.
For an informal glimpse into JPM, search for the #JPM12 hashtag in twitter. And if you have an interest in talking about a Phase I oncology asset, let me know.